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“I have said this before, but it bears repeating: the Universe is a marvelous place, filled with wonder, beauty, and objects that bend the mind almost to breaking. But as far as we can observe, the universe obeys a set of rules, which we call physics and mathematics. We have a pretty good grasp on the basics of these rules (which is why, for example, you can use the computer in front of you right now; it takes a lot of physics and math to make a computer). We do not understand all these rules, of course, but that does not mean we understand none of them. There are people out there (like McCanney and Booth) who want you to think that we need to overturn the very underpinnings of physics and science, but this is simply not true. The Universe is wonderful enough without having to make up nonsense about it.”
-Phil Plait (badastronomy.com)

C-SMARTS

Filed under: Project-archive — mgrusin at 3:55 pm on Monday, September 7, 2009
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  • C-SMARTS Opening Animation (2004)
    60 seconds
    Lightwave, Video Toaster
    Click image to play

C-SMARTS stands for Colorado Students and Mentors Applying Research and Technology in Space. We took a college course called “Gateway to Space”, designed and taught by Chris Koehler at the University of Colorado, and put it onto 42 DVDs for distribution to smaller and less-advantaged schools throughout Colorado. Chris and I shot and edited the course over a very busy summer in 2004. The course includes lectures on the history of space exploration, the basics of rocket propulsion and orbital mechanics, advice for working on projects and teams, and a number of guest scientists and engineers lecturing on a variety of topics.

The title sequence shows the final project for the course: a 10cm cube “balloonsat”, which is actually flown on a high-altitude balloon. Throughout the course the students learn how to construct these experiment packages, which include digital cameras, temperature loggers, and other experiments that the students devise. At the end of the semester, the students travel to Boulder to launch their experiments on a balloon in association with Edge of Space Sciences (an amateur radio group experienced in conducting these missions). The balloons fly to 100,000′ and are tracked by GPS over amateur radio. The balloons can travel several hundred miles before bursting, at which point the experiments parachute to earth and are recovered by the students on chase teams (not one payload has ever been lost).

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